Tag Archives: Sunrise

Stowe, VT 13DEC2014

An image of the some of the trails in the Gondola area at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
A gorgeous day at Stowe for our annual ski program training

Today was our annual training day for Stowe’s ski program with the local schools, and indeed it was a great one. We’ve often had fresh snow on these mid-December training days, but the past few days featured a cutoff nor’easter that delivered 2 to 2 ½ feet of snow to the Northern Vermont ski resorts. And, the snow wasn’t just fluff either; there were roughly three inches of liquid equivalent in that snow, so it was a major boost to the natural base depths. The snow depth at the Mt. Mansfield Stake just pushed past 30 inches with that storm, and it probably won’t be settling too much due to the density of the snow.

“…there was just so much of that deep packed powder that it didn’t even make you want to head off the beaten path for untracked snow.”

The forecast for today was looking great; with the low pressure system finally weakening, there was the chance for some sun, and temperatures would be in the 20s F. With the hefty amount of construction going on over at the Spruce Peak Base Area, the meeting place for today’s session was in the Midway Lodge. The space actually felt much better than the old day lodge where we would typically meet, and a lot of that seemed to be because the space was simply configured better. Everything was well organized when we arrived, and since we had almost an hour before we’d get together with our group, I headed over to the Spruce Peak Base for a bit to eat at the Great Room Grill. The new structure that’s going in over there is still at the stage of steel framework, but it should ultimately have plenty of space for the children’s programs and whatever else they’ll be putting in there.

We got together with Joe and Emile from BJAMS for our ski group, and had Steve Dever as our instructor for today, who is actually Emile’s neighbor. Each year we seem to get a little something different out of the training session, and this year Steve spent a lot of time on techniques for safety, such as strategies for where to stop on the trail and how to position your body to ensure maximal visibility of oncoming skier traffic. On the technical side, we talked a lot about pole work and “finishing” turns with regard to speed control.

We were generally on piste today, but conditions were simply fantastic on the groomed runs as one might expect after two feet of dense snow. Those first couple of runs on Perry Merrill were simply divine as far as groomers go. We headed over to the Fourrunner Quad for the second half of the morning, skiing some of the usual routes out toward Sunrise. Steve stopped us above the Chapel Glades, pointing out how that was a great one to do with the kids, and the snow looked good enough that a number of our group headed in and met up with everyone else on the other side of the glade. I checked with my measurement pole and found 21 inches of snow there, so there was more than enough coverage. We’re well past the 24-inch mark at the stake, and the fact that so much of that is dense snow makes it even more substantial. Coverage really wasn’t an issue in there, and there were areas of packed snow where there had been enough skier traffic. There was plenty of powder in there was well though, so getting into the powder off piste is definitely an option on appropriate terrain now.

The sun was out a good bit this morning, and with temperatures probably around 30 F at the base, you couldn’t really ask for much more. You could certainly see the quality of the groomed snow drop a bit on the popular routes as the morning wore on, but there was just so much of that deep packed powder that it didn’t even make you want to head off the beaten path for untracked snow. If I’m not searching out powder to ski in, that’s a definite sign of some seriously good snow on piste. It was a little hard to pull away in the early afternoon, but we wanted to pick up the boys from Norris’ house in time for him to get off for his Nordic skiing program. The next snowstorm appears to be coming in the middle of the week, so we’ll see what we get out of that one.

Stowe, VT 21NOV2013

An image of ski tracks on the Lower North Slope trail at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
Super smooth turns today on Lower North Slope

We were last out at Stowe for turns on Sunday, and since that time there really hasn’t been much in the way of new snow – about an inch fell at 1,500’ on Tuesday, with probably a couple of inches up near the Mansfield ridgeline.  That wasn’t much to inspire one with thoughts of great ski conditions, but since I was in Morrisville today for the annual BJAMS Thanksgiving lunch, on the way home I decided to pay a visit to Mt. Mansfield and make use of the energy provided by that great meal.

“…the forecast suggests
that we’ve got three
potential systems moving
through in the next few
days…”

Temperatures that were in the teens this morning were hovering near 40 F in the mountain valleys and up at the Mansfield Base in the early afternoon.  Although it was above freezing, the air seemed quite cold and there was no melting going on – the dew points were just sitting there down in the teens.  I parked a bit north of the Mansfield Base Lodge, got my gear together and began skinning up toward Lower North Slope.  With an inch or two of natural snow supplemented by some snowmaking blow-over, the look and feel of the snow on that first pitch above the parking lot was quite encouraging.

An image of a skin track in a couple inches of snow on the Toll Road at Stowe Mountain Ski Resort in VermontThere was an occasional skier here or there on the slopes, but as one might expect on a pre-season midweek day without any obvious storms having gone through the area, it was pretty quiet.  The snowmaking lines were definitely charged in many areas, but with the marginal temperatures, the guns seemed to be on hold.  That kept the scene especially peaceful.  I ascended at first via North Slope, and while Lower North Slope had seen a massive bombardment of manmade snow thanks to the cold temperatures, above Crossover the surface was a refrozen mess that had either seen snowcat/snowmobile traffic or previous skiers.  The uneven surface was occasionally slick enough to cause some skin slippage on the steepest pitches, so at the top of the Mountain Triple at ~2,700’ I switched over to Toll Road for a change of pace.  The skinning there was delightful, with a track recently made by another skier in a couple inches of powder.  I continued on up Sunrise and Lower Ridgeview, and finally stopped my ascent at the next junction with Toll Road at 3,300’.  Based on what I’d seen during my meandering climb of the mountain, I liked the prospects for starting out with some turns in the powder along the edges of Toll Road.  In general, slopes that hadn’t seen fresh snowmaking were going to be a scratchy mess of refrozen corduroy, bumpy snow, or worse yet, snow that had been beaten up by the treads of machinery… and then solidified.

An image of partly cloudy skies behind some evergreens at Stowe Mountain Ski Resort in Vermont
A mix of sun and clouds today

I started down Toll Road, and indeed the surface was as expected – where vehicles had traveled it was very disheveled, but fortunately the edges held frequent untouched powder of a couple inches that made for some smooth turns on the gentle pitches.  Sunrise was steeper and held the occasional good pocket of powder off to the sides, but generally the scratchy, messy snow that marked the low end of today’s spectrum of conditions.  However, when I found myself on Gulch I was greeted with some freshly-made snow that produced some great turns.  There was quite a mix of options on Gulch, with turns on the manmade and occasional jaunts into the natural snow where nothing had been blown.  Like Sunday, at Crossover I once again found myself looking down Lower Lord at some impressive snow – it was that mix of natural bolstered by manmade, and I got about 10 turns worth of good stuff before I cut through the trees over to Lower North Slope.  Natural snow almost always trumps manmade snow, but for today, I actually might have to give top honors for most fun turns to that freshly-made stuff on Lower North Slope.  Where it hadn’t been touched by any equipment, which was fortunately most of the slope, it was billiard table smooth – and it offered up turns just as smooth.  You would shave off just a half inch or so of that snow and the turns were dreamy.  The surface seemed so durable despite its softness, and it made me wonder how a non-groomed surface like that would hold up to skier traffic.  It was a really fun way to finish off the run.

“…I actually might have
to give top honors for
most fun turns to that
freshly-made stuff on
Lower North Slope.”

So, although the base depths certainly aren’t up close to the two foot mark the way they were last week, the base of 7 inches or so up high is right around average – and we’re not talking about 7 inches of fluff, this is stuff that has already been consolidated by the warmer temperatures from earlier in the week.  I think we’re going to see some interesting options in the higher elevations when natural snow moves in and starts to build upon what’s there.  And, we may not have to wait long – the forecast suggests that we’ve got three potential systems moving through in the next few days, and possibly even a fourth, larger system, in the middle of next week.  That one is still too far out in the modeling world to really be considered likely at this point, but it’s got people’s interest because it could be a coastal storm with more copious amounts of moisture.  In any event, the first three events are much more likely, and should be almost exclusively snow in the mountains.  I’m curious to see what we get out of these systems, because as we know, the Northern Greens can often take these smaller snow events, run with them, and deliver the goods.

Stowe, VT 11OCT2000

A map showing the route of my ski tour on Mt. Mansfield at Stowe Mountain Resort after an early October snowstorm delivered some powder snow for skiing
My route on Mt. Mansfield today took me up toward the Sunrise trail to enjoy some early October powder.

Today I went up to Mt. Mansfield to get some turns in the snow before it started to disappear.  A nice cold snap has dropped over a foot of new snow on some of the mountains, with snowfall reaching even down to Burlington.  Traveling on I-89, I first saw snow on the Robbins Mountain Power Line, up around 2,000′.  It was very patchy and hardly noticeable, so I was worried about how the lower elevations would be on Mt. Mansfield.  Things looked up as I entered Waterbury (~520′) and found traces of snow on the ground.  At the base of Mt. Mansfield (~1,600′) there was an inch or two of snow on the grassy surfaces.  I hiked up in the region of the triple, looking for slopes that had nicely mowed grass for the trip down – a map of my route is pictured along with this text.  At around 2,500′, the snow was over 6 inches deep so I threw on my snowshoes to make the going easier. I stopped my hike at around 2,920′ (see map) since it was time to head to work, but the snow depth had increased to about 8-10 inches.  The snow was fairly heavy (~11% H2O or so), but light enough to make powder turns.  I’m sure it was even better up at 4,000′ and above.  The first half of the run had the best snow, with much stickier stuff lower down, but I was still able to ski right back to the base of the triple and make a quick departure for Burlington.

Friday update:  From Burlington, I can see that they’ve lost some snow on the mountain, but as of yesterday evening there were still 9 inches at the stake.